Small town innovation and old-school Kiwi ingenuity by Shoreline Cinema owner Peter Avery has enabled the boutique cinema to safely allow more viewers into the cinema during level 2.
Giving the Waikanae cinema and cafe in Kāpiti a good spruce-up during level 3, Peter looked at how he could use the time to his advantage.
"We don't get a lot of closed times so it was a good opportunity to get our fabrics redone and do those sorts of things," Peter said.
Before lockdown they introduced a seating policy for social distancing that reduced the number of seats by half, but before getting up and running again in level 2 Peter had an idea that would allow more people to sit in the cinema at the same time, but also give customers peace of mind watching a screening while sitting next to strangers for the duration of a movie.
Getting sheets of plastic from a local supplier during level 3, Peter cut them down to create plastic shields between each double-seater couch in the cinema, similar to those used in supermarkets between the checkout operator and customers.
Attached to the arm rest, his clever creation still allows room to put your arm on the arm rest, space for your drink and does not negatively affect the viewer's experience.
"I had to make sure they didn't intrude into the vision of viewers.
"The three potential issues for me were them intruding into the field of vision, reflection, and audio distraction.
"We've tested them and had great feedback so far.
"Structurally it works for us and customer feedback has been phenomenal."
The shields will be in place for as long as needed.
"We might keep them or improve them and if it makes people more comfortable about not sitting next to a stranger then we might consider having them for longer or in winter flu season.
"We'll just see how they go and how people like them."
The shields are small and unobtrusive, designed to stop germs spreading but not to interrupt the cinematic experience.
Talking to contacts in the New Zealand independent film distributors association, as far as Peter knows he is the only one who has created shields in a cinema.
"No one else that I know of has them.
"By introducing these it allows us not to pack it out but to allow more people in."
Sneeze screens, germ guards, plastic protectors … call them what you want, the small town of Waikanae has taken to them with enthusiasm.
With many elderly customers, it has given them peace of mind that they can enjoy going out to the cinema, enjoy a drink, a movie and return home safely.